Persepolis Review

Marjane Satrapi’s tale of growing up in Iran is presented in a unique and often hilarious comic-book format. She is obviously a talented writer and storyteller and artist (three skills that seldom overlap). While the voice is strictly that of the coming-of-age girl (born in 1970 in Iran) the illustrations and Greek chorus-style renderings of authority figures beautifully convey what many Persians must have been feeling in the years surrounding the 1979 Revolution.

The writing is what’s often referred to as economical. You won’t find paragraphs of lyrical prose or florid descriptions of, well, anything. In that, there’s genius. We’re seeing the world entirely through Satrapi’s often-skewed eyes and dialogue with her family and friends. Because of that, the story is told with such authenticity that I don’t doubt a single word of it. The rumors and rules, protests and chaos, bombings and rampant decline of a once-proud country–this is how it really happened.

(On a personal note, my “godparents” hail from Tehran, and were close enough to hear the riots around the U.S. Embassy during those fateful days.)

Lately, thanks to our political climate in the U.S., the notions of freedom and immigration issues and fairness loom large in the public eye. At the very least, Satrapi’s heartbreaking story should be included in any intelligent discussion–a cautionary tale about what could happen. After all, as she states several times in the book, nobody foretold a theocratic regime taking over Iran. Who would take that idea seriously?

Marjane Satrapi's comic novel "Persepolis" with a Persian-style pillow